An Italian company is close to signing a major contract to take part in the construction of regional jet airlines with Russia’s Sukhoi Civil Aircraft. It must be Alenia Aeronautica, a subsidiary firm of Finmeccanica, Italy’s main industrial group, leader in the high technology field, and ranks among the top ten groups at world level in the aerospace, defence and security sectors. Finmeccanica signed a letter of understanding with Sukhoi that would see Alenia Aeronautica work in a joint venture to produce the Superjet 100, the flagship craft of Sukhoi, for sale to China’s O-Bay Aircraft Co. The deal involves 100 Superjets for an estimated cost of $3.5 billion US, starting with 40 aircraft in 2014. According to media reports, if the deal comes to fruition it will be the most significant in the history of Sukhoi and Russian civil aviation. The initial development of the Sukhoi Superjet 100 began in 2000 and has involved international partners including Italy’s Alenia Aeronautica, Canada, France and the United States.